Kathy and Ralph Dise run separate companies on opposite ends of town, both conveniently situated near their Shaker home.
By Jennifer Proe
Who: Kathy and Ralph Dise
Where: Malvern neighborhood
Kathy: I am a trusted bookkeeper for more than 100 small businesses that don’t need a full-time bookkeeper. My mission is to make your business profitable.
Ralph: To help companies find great executives, maximize talent, and transition staff with compassion and dignity.
What I Love About My Work:
Kathy: I love learning about what businesses and non-profits do, hearing their stories and supporting their aspirations. Keeping track of the details of my clients’ businesses so they can make informed decisions and grow is what floats my boat.
Ralph: I love impacting people’s lives when they go through a career transition, and I love helping companies find great people who make important contributions to their employers.
Kathy was born and raised in Toledo, and Ralph in Cleveland Heights, where he was one of the founding members of the Cleveland Heights hockey team in 1968. They met on a sailing trip out of Traverse City, Michigan in 1984. A few months later, Ameritrust bank recruited Kathy to Cleveland (from Toledo Savings). The couple began dating and were married six months later. They have three grown children, Molly in New Jersey, George in Cleveland, and Eileen in New York.
Kathy started her business with just two clients in 2010. She now has 11 employees who served 140 clients last year. Says Kathy, “As a banker, I saw many businesses struggle to make sound financial decisions. With more than 20 years in banking, I knew how to help.”
Ralph was working in human resources at J&L Steel’s Cleveland Works when a merger with LTV created layoffs. “I was put in charge of helping employees find new jobs, and found I had a calling to help people during the difficult time of job loss,” says Ralph. He joined one of his former vendors, and within five years established his own outplacement firm. Dise & Co. has now been in business for 25 years and has a team of eight employees.
Kathy and Ralph are avid golfers who hit the links at least twice a week in the summer. The rest of the year, you’ll find them curling at the Cleveland Skating Club. Ralph plays the guitar and serves on the board of directors for Roots of American Music. He hosts a “pickin’ party” in his office conference room the last Monday of every month.
Ralph attended the SHPD Citizens Police Academy several years ago. On the night he rode along with a Shaker police officer, they caught Kathy going through a stop sign on Fairmount Boulevard. “I told the officer, ‘You just made my husband’s night,’” says Kathy.
On Working and Living in Shaker Heights:
Kathy: We have fabulous neighbors. I love the ability to step out the door for a beautiful walk, or over to Shaker Country Club to get in a fast nine holes after dinner in the summer. We live at Pistone’s at the end of our block; it’s our second kitchen. We love exploring all of Cleveland – Shaker Square, University Circle/Uptown, downtown, Ohio City, and the Metroparks. Cleveland has a ton of golf courses that I enjoy playing.
Ralph: I love the architecture and diversity of Shaker. Heinen’s at Chagrin and Lee is one of my favorite places in the whole world; the staff members are helpful and friendly, the food is high quality, and I always run into friends and business acquaintances when I shop there, at least three times a week.
My office is two blocks from home. I needed to be close to home when I started Dise & Co., since Kathy was also working. I never missed a performance, sports event, or parent/teacher conference during our kids’ childhood. I can look out my window at work and see the Goodyear Blimp circling the city, a lake carrier on the horizon in the west, or the trees changing color in the fall, and I am reminded why Cleveland is called the Forest City.
Originally published in Shaker Life, Winter 2017.